I think this is my favorite photograph of myself. Of all images it is the most characteristic. Here I am at two years old. The place is my Aunt Effie’s home on the west side of Camano Island. She is taking the photo with a Kodak box camera. I am walking from the one-room guest cabin to the main house, deep in thought – my serious, determined, autistic self.To this day I remember studying the path before me – I can smell the dry salt grass. But I can’t recall what I am holding in my hand – most likely a book. Note that I am clearly left-handed. Behind me on the cabin porch sits my mother and my dad’s youngest sister Hazel, chatting. They haven’t noticed I’ve walked away. The older I get, the more I resemble Aunt Hazel. Our 1942 Pontiac is parked beside the cabin. Dad won it in the Boeing Salmon Derby just before the car makers suspended manufacture due to World War II. A second after this photo was taken I notice Aunt Effie observing me. I briefly look up from the sandy path. She smiles. Until I was 18 I spent summers with her on the island. She taught me to make clam chowder and pancakes, she taught me sewing, and the technique for starting the fire in the white enameled wood range. She was the only person I allowed to hug me. At this time of year when the veil between worlds is thin I think of her often.

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